Hundreds of people have gathered at the National Indigenous Education Conference in Sydney today, determined to pave a path in western education that is not at the expense of cultural identity.
Malarndirri McCarthy

5 Nov 2013 - 5:51 PM  UPDATED 5 Nov 2013 - 7:17 PM

Buunji conference organiser Lillian Gordan says there are three main reasons why people had come there, and they are Indigenous identity, Indigenous diversity and Indigenous sustainability.

"It's about bringing everybody together. Buunji is a Wiradjuri word meaning 'to share,' that everyone is coming together pretty much from all across the nation, what they've done and what they've seen and what their hopes are into the future for Aboriginal education," says Ms Gordan.

There were also many school children from around NSW in attendance, who came with their teachers to understand the importance of going to school.

The teaching of Indigenous perspectives across all curriculums was also discussed at today’s conference.

Alison Johnstone from the NSW Department of Education has an incredible passion for history and says it is important to have the stories of Indigenous men and women who fought in the World Wars taught in all schools across the country.

"My core role is curriculum so it's imperative that I support principals and teachers in implementing Aboriginal perspectives into their curriculum, into their syllabus, and also supporting them in getting that access to the information and materials and sort of supporting and guiding them.

"I went through a real, ‘Oh why aren't they doing it’ but sometimes you've got to support them to find the information, and through curriculum and through education I believe that's the only way we can re-tell history through our eyes, the true history of our country through our eyes because for too long it's been suppressed," says Ms Johnstone.

Newly elected Senator of the Northern Territory, Nova Peris, also attended the conference to speak about her concerns with education resources and teaching cuts in the Northern Territory.

"I came here today as a person who's always been an advocate for education, especially Indigenous education, and being the new Senator for the Northern Territory we've had significant cuts from the Northern Territory government, more than 120 teacher cuts from across the Northern Territory.

"When you look at the COAG report that's come out , you know Indigenous education is going backwards, teacher cuts, not providing resources and not moving forward with innovative programs which include culture and reflection of Australia’s true history, and these are the things we can't ignore," says Senator Peris.

The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education Conference will continue until Thursday at the Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre in Darling Harbour.